Synopsis: With potential Mrs. Arrow, Helena the Huntress, seemingly on vacation in the Bahamas after last episode’s Dirty Harryesque meltdown, Oliver – aka Arrow – keeps himself busy by tussling with a copycat vigilante known as the Dark Archer, who is evidently either trying to make Arrow/Oliver look bad or reveal his true identity or kill him or all three and then…drum roll, please…we discover the Dark Archer’s true identity instead! Dum-da-dum-dum [dramatic tympany drum roll]
Details: In lieu of the now hopefully long-gone Oliver voiceovers, we continue to have the very retro 1960s/70s drama TV show opening intonation of “previously on Arrow…” to remind us that the opening sequence rehash of last week’s episode might have been something escaped the short attention span of today’s brains so inundated with smartphones, tablets, Facebook and Twitter check-ins. Still hilarious. Fortunately, this week’s opening scene was not in the bedroom with Mrs. Arrow [Helena the Huntress] and we get right to the action of somebody getting killed within the first eight minutes [before the commercial break, that has to be in somebody’s contract]. In this case, it looks like it is Oliver as Arrow doing the killing, but something’s not right here…not only is the local criminal killed outright [as opposed to being only maimed and warned in the name of justice in Arrow’s typical MO] but the dude flinging the killer arrows looks significantly paunchier than our svelte boy vigilante. Oh he’s good with the arrow distribution alright, but he also appears to have enjoyed his granny’s holiday fruitcake too.
Speaking of holiday fruitcake, we are happy to see that the show’s brain trust evidently listened to our griping about the absence of any jolly holiday spirit for the last two episodes and how that approach ran the distinct risk of pissing off Santa – which is not something you want to do this time of year [February, maybe – then you have the whole year to work it off]. So the lack of holiday pleasantness was addressed and the Grinch environment was explained by Thea – how appropriate – with the exceedingly lame reasoning that ever since Oliver was gone, nobody was in the mood to be happy during the holidays. What!? Carrying family dysfunctionality to new levels in the Queen household means holding grudges and other personal feelings as long as you possibly can for maximum effect. Oliver – who is not exactly convincing as a happy elf – talks the fam into decorating the house a little bit [we would have liked to have seen a fake white X-mas tree with red and green bulbs and maybe a color wheel behind it] tossing a holiday party. Any party at the Queen house is a West Coast party so that means Thea gets to act like a drug-addled, nympho, Walter and Moira get in a fight and nobody gets drunk and plays Twister. Or even Monopoly – and you’d think with all those high-falutin’ executives, they’d know how to cheat properly at Monopoly. So, the show’s brain trust has some work to do next time a major holiday comes around – and Valentine’s Day is NOT a major holiday!
Since Helena is obviously at some fancy villa on whatever Bahamas island her family owns working out her differences with her Dad – we can only assume this since their storyline completely disappeared from the radar screen this week – there is some extra room for flashbacks because the show’s brain trust has evidently decided, rather than work these plot elements into the show in a logical scenario, they’re going to take the easy way out and do it with the flashback method – the film school equivalent of the dream scenario you see characters use in daytime soap operas. In Flashback #1, Caveman speak good English suddenly. Tell Oliver how to get off island. Bring present – being the holidays and all.
Back to the action, we see the police station still hasn’t paid their power bill and works mostly in the dark which might understandably be the source of anger for Angry Police Chief Wiggum Detective Lance. Oliver disguises his voice and calls Angry Police Chief Wiggum Detective Lance as Arrow, hoping the two of them can be buddies or pals and nab this copycat archer but just as we are looking forward to seeing where this might be going, we get interrupted with a long and mostly useless scene with Thea [good for going to the kitchen and getting beer though] followed by Flashback #2 in which we get some island background history from the Caveman’s captive, Encylopedia Brittanica Rex, who informs Ollie that the island is really a Chinese prison for bad guys and his Caveman buddy is the chief bad guy.
After that stunning revelation, we jump ahead to Eddie Haskell’s [Tommy Merlyn’s] dad warning Moira about bringing in their “associate” unless she can reign in her family members and the first thought is that the associate must be Donald Trump – who else would automatically strike fear into everybody in the room? That is followed up by another scene of the copycat archer dispatching another local criminal and those back-to-back scenes are about the most blatant giveaway ever in the history of blatant television series giveaways – obviously Eddie Haskell’s dad is the bulbous mystery archer! – now we just have to wait for the show to reveal that nugget.
We move ahead to IT superwoman Felicity Smoak showing skills not normally associated with an IT specialist and tracking down the source of the mystery archer’s arrows for Oliver [it’s good to be the king] using a lightning quick computer not bogged down by Facebook and Victoria’s Secret catalogue pages and computer technology more typically associated with an international spy agency than an investment company. We then find out she’s Jewish and, uh, not like we care, but….whoooooo caaaares!?
A completely forgettable scene has Eddie Haskell [Tommy Merlyn] bringing Laurel an emotional gift before we move on to Arrow getting lured into a trap set by the copycat and narrowly escaping the ensuing explosion a la “Backdraft” style. Meanwhile, the holiday party is still in full swing and nobody is apparently missing Oliver – the organizer of the whole soiree – so Walter and Moira whisk themselves off to a cozy little hallway enclave where Moira promises to come clean to Walter about all her dirty dealings [this would have been a nice spot for “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” music from AC/DC, but what do we know?]. There’s another scene with Thea [more beer] before moving ahead in the action timeline as the copycat archer – who has lots and lots and lots of time on his hands – takes hostages and sets yet another trap for poor gullible Arrow/Oliver. Flashback #3 is interspersed between the trap scenes while we wait for that predictable outcome of Arrow to discover the identity of the mystery archer and this flashback shows DeathStroke and his henchmen capturing and collecting the Caveman for what we can only presume is a subsequent torture session in a flashback scene destined for 2013.
Back to the present-day action – Arrow ziplines into the abandoned warehouse in The ‘Glades where the hostages are being “held” as the mystery archer awaits Arrow to take the cheesy comestible bait and when he does – voila! – it’s a duel. The arrow shooting contest ends with the mystery archer getting some scoring hits to the body and he seems to get the upper hand in the hand-to-hand combat section of the battle as well and is just about to finish off Arrow. It looks like our boy Arrow is in dire trouble until…he unveils his desperation double secret probation swivel move that he learned in Argentina when he was disguised as a bus boy in a two-star hotel [something the mystery archer surely would not have known about] and the winner and still champion is – Arrow! [ring announcer voiceover would have been good here in our version]. Arrow crawls out of the building without anybody seeing him – remarkable! – and calls Diggle to wheelbarrow him off the premises.
From there, it all goes downhill rather quickly to the end. Oliver is carted off to the hospital where Diggle gives everybody a song and dance about a motorcycle crash causing the puncture wound injuries [oh yeah, right, okay – motorcycle crash] while the mystery archer has a quick recovery and reveals his identity as Eddie Haskell/Tommy Merlyn’s dad like we all figured and Moira hashes it out with him and reveals the level of her involvement while Oliver, recuperating at home with Diggle, discloses his suspicion of “somebody else” being behind the mystery archer. Woooooh, cue dramatic music here. Six more months of this?
The Poop and Skinny: The flashbacks are back [audible groan] but the voiceovers appear to be permanently gone, so at least there’s that. Dark Archer is the nickname for the nemesis this week – Dark Archer? Our brain turned that into Dark Archie Bunker and liked it much better. Thea got waaay too much time in this episode – at least seven minutes of screen time by our reckoning – but, hey, at least that meant more time for potty breaks and trips to the kitchen to visit the beer or nog refilling station. No new episodes until January 2013 – take that as you may.